This year, Jonathan Schwartz got to helm JavaOne--Sun's love fest for Java developers--for the first time after taking over the CEO post from Scott McNealy.
The conference is supposedly the biggest ever, since the first JavaOne conference in 1996, attracting some 20,000 visitors including those who participated online.
One's really got to hand it to the Sun folks, who made sure that there was something for everyone. There were dozens of pavilions showcasing the latest and greatest applications built on Java technology, and technical forums and hand-on labs galore to appeal to the hardcore techies.
Even a first-timer like me got swept up in the buzz as I traipsed the sprawling grounds of San Francisco's Moscone Center for four days, attending keynotes and chatting with Sun execs.
But the most fun bit was partaking in the conversations at the lunch table, munching sandwiches and gossiping about the day's events.
While JavaOne demonstrated Sun's deep commitment to the platform it created 11 years ago, there was a burning question that dogged everyone's minds (or at least the reporters') when everything was over: How does Sun intend to monetize Java? Financial success has eluded Sun while other companies have managed to reap millions from using the Java platform.
I asked Rich Green, Sun's newly-appointed executive VP of software, what his strategy was to get Sun the share of the money it deserved from the technology it created. He said one of his top priorities is to make sure he communicates what value Sun gets from Java more effectively to shareholders.
One can't help wondering if Sun's having difficulty pinpointing exactly where or what that value is. Articulating or quantifying that clearly still seems to be a problem for the Sun folks.
Sun's done a lot for its developers, including unraveling coveted parts of Java source codes and updating the platform to make it easier to use. But the company has to figure out how to use Java to ring in the dollars that it badly needs.
And for Jonathan Schwartz, who has been tasked to bring Sun up to the financial mark, that will be one his toughest challenges in the months ahead.